When I imagine the ideal date night dinner setting, three words come to mind: surprise, serenity and style. I've scoured Baltimore to find places that tick all these boxes. The restaurants I've picked out are perfect for a night out with your partner, where you can enjoy unexpected culinary delights and a relaxed vibe for deeper conversations. Each venue presents a fusion of global flavors, crafted with the chefs' unique artistry and set in distinctively stylish environments.
If you enjoy Shoyou Sushi but are put off by the crowd, you'll be excited to learn that “Sushi Bruce” Lee, its owner, has opened a new outpost, SUSHIBRUCE YA, in Fells Point. During our visit, we discovered a tranquil atmosphere with just a few guests, enhancing the dining experience.
SUSHIBRUCE YA retains the beloved menu and stylish interior of Shoyou Sushi, yet offers a calmer environment that is ideal for enjoying their inventive and delightful sushi. Bruce Lee is a master at fusing international elements with traditional Japanese techniques. Our appetizer, "Firecracker," for example, was inspired by the festive Chinese explosive device. It mimicked the sound of a firecracker with crispy wonton chips, and at its heart was a lavish mix of avocado and masago. The combination of the crunchy wonton with subtly salty masago, spicy mayo and eel sauce created a rich, layered sensation.
Bruce Lee also brings Mexican culinary flair into his dishes. Among the various special rolls, the Japanese burrito stood out. This creative roll swaps out rice for a crab mix and includes lightly battered shrimp, spicy tuna, masago and avocado, all wrapped in a thin layer of soy paper. The house burrito sauce, a mayo-based concoction, added a custard touch to this unique culinary experience. Other than the special offerings, the salmon sashimi, a Japanese classic, wowed us with its smooth texture and deep flavor, perfectly capturing the sophistication of Japanese cuisine.
COURTESY OF YUYU HUANG
The farm-to-table trend finds a true representation in foraged. Upon entering, guests have the choice of heading to the cocktail bar, where bartenders skillfully mix a variety of liquors in shaped containers, or opting for a table that allows for face-to-face interaction.
At the forefront of the menu, a bold array of grilled pig parts, including everything from ears to cheek, catches your eye. My partner and I played it safe with the classic pork belly but ventured out of our comfort zone with the kidney hand pie. While the pork belly was tasty, it was the kidney hand pie that truly impressed us with its deep-fried crust and rich filling of ground kidney, vegetables and spices. The duck breast also stood out, with its rich duck fat, grilled artichoke and tangy cherry purée offering a harmonious balance of meat and vegetables. Another distinctive feature of foraged. is the opportunity for guests to have custom cocktails crafted based on their preferences. If you do decide to venture here, it's worth noting that the portion sizes are modest, leaving room for a post-dinner snack.
COURTESY OF YUYU HUANG
As a resident of Baltimore, skipping seafood just isn't done, and Dylan's Oyster Cellar in Hampden provides an accessible option for Homewood's student population. The moment you walk into this speakeasy, graced with hand-drawn chalkboards and nautical decor, you're greeted by a relaxing vibe. Among their selection of raw oysters, which capture the essence of the Eastern coast, we sampled the Rocky Tops from Virginia and the Wellfleet from Massachusetts. The Rocky Tops were notably fresh, offering a light and breezy flavor reminiscent of a sea breeze. However, it was the Wellfleet oysters that we preferred, with their deeper, more robust taste evoking the sensation of ocean waves.
In addition to the oysters, the smoked fish stew was a standout. This creamy soup, made with ground fish and a blend of thyme oil, herbs and harissa, warmed us with its layered textures and distinctive aroma. The spice and herbs complemented the fish perfectly, allowing the fresh, maritime flavor to shine through with each spoonful. And, in keeping with the speakeasy vibe, the cocktail menu is not to be overlooked. Whether you have a sweet tooth or prefer fresher flavors, there's a cocktail here to suit your palate.
Whether it's enjoying a quiet, intimate meal, exploring bold flavors or sipping on a meticulously crafted cocktail, these eateries ensure a memorable evening filled with culinary adventures and heartfelt moments. So, when planning your next date night in Baltimore, make sure to include a stop at one of these exceptional restaurants for a special evening.